A father and son business duo in Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty to defrauding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of millions of dollars while knowingly hiring illegal aliens — some of whom had been previously deported.
On Friday, The Department of Justice announced that Raul Solis “pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to unlawfully employ workers who were neither lawfully admitted to, nor authorized to be employed in, the United States.” His son, Raul Solis-Martinez, had previously pleaded guilty to that same charge on July 27.
According to authorities, the two men owned two construction companies in the Jacksonville area where they regularly lowered labor costs by paying their employees both in cash and in checks to keep certain income off the books. In total, the DOJ claims that between 2014 and 2019, the two men failed to report $22,186,096.35 in wages. This allowed the business owners to avoid paying more than $5,613,00 in taxes
The DOJ claims that Solis and Solis-Martinez “knew that many of their employees had emigrated to the United States illegally or were otherwise not authorized to work here.”
The two have agreed to repay $5,613,082.38 to the IRS. A sentencing hearing will be held at a later date.
The Solis family is not alone in illegally hiring workers while committing fraud in the construction business.
On Thursday, a Tampa, Florida, man was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Kelbin Tejada ran a company that supplied workers for various manual labor jobs in the area. Per Florida law, Tejada was required to have adequate insurance for each of his employees. Many of the individuals supplied by Tejada to various construction were illegal aliens.
Yet, in the course of business, Tejada “falsely and fraudulently” claimed in insurance applications that his company had a smaller payroll and number of workers working on job sites than in reality. Tejada also “falsely and fraudulently sent wire communications to numerous contractors representing that his company’s employees had full worker’s compensation coverage,” a DOJ press release noted.
In actuality, Tejada had been cashing $18,000,000 in checks from various construction contractors for these employees, while shielding the number of workers on his payroll. That figure “far exceeded the very limited payroll figures that Tejada had reported to his worker’s compensation insurance company.” That meant his workers were inadequately insured.
“Mr. Tejada not only defrauded insurance companies of thousands of dollars in premiums by lying on his policy application, more importantly he severely jeopardized the health and well-being of non-citizen laborers who work long hours in hazardous positions,” Homeland Security Investigations Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Dumas said in a statement.
“HSI Special Agents and our law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring that all workers performing these jobs have the safety net of proper workman’s compensation insurance,” Dumas added.